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Monday, June 18, 2007

Language Delivery

Today I waited for UPS to deliver my new battery. For those of you who complain about Dutch service: they don’t give any timeframe for delivery here, or rather: anytime between 9 and 6. Luckily it arrived around 10.30. To make things easy, I tried to handle the man the broken battery right away (remember: I had to return it to Apple within 10 days), but that was too much to ask for. Easy is never the way it works in life. First I had to call UPS headquarters to arrange a pick-up. OK. Then it became very clear that I don’t speak Canadian. I may write understandable English, but making myself clear on the phone turned out impossible.
I should not have laughed at the nervous boy introducing the ‘Alaska’ movie yesterday. He was Asian and welcomed us in the theater in such un-understandable English I couldn’t help laughing. Shame on me. The always friendly and serious Canadians in the theatre just sat there, unmoved. They are like that. That’s why the UPS woman on the line kept saying ‘I’m sorry’ after misspelling my name for the third time, the address for the second time and refusing to understand the postal code at all, needing four tries to decipher my 2R9 6M2 into what it was. That puts a man in his place. To make things worse, I had to call again. Got a man this time. “I called earlier, but I forgot to give you my buzzer code.” “Ah, mister Neesmayr, was it? We’ve got all your details here, I’m sure. We’ll pick it up sometime this afternoon” “No, I forgot to give you my buzzer code”. “Sorry???”

“My BUZZER CODE! The number you have to enter at the entrance of the building, because there are over 100 apartments here and for one reason or another builders don’t give people their apartment number as a buzzer code, but a much more difficult combination, and if you don’t enter that number, you won’t be able to let me know you are here!” “Ah, I am sorry Sir, you mean the buzzer code.. Did you say C611?” “No, I said...” And again, I felt like a space invader having his first try at interstellar communication. But the good part of it was that half an hour later they arrived and buzzed the right code. And the best news: the new battery works.

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